Weather again delays search for Calif climber
MOUNT SHASTA, Calif. (AP) – Rescue teams planned to make another attempt Thursday to find a climber stranded near the top of California’s Mount Shasta after bad weather hampered search efforts Wednesday for a fourth straight day.
Poor visibility prevented a helicopter crew from completing a reconnaissance flight to the top of the 14,126-foot mountain near the California-Oregon border, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.
Rescuers have been trying to reach 26-year-old Thomas Bennett of Oakland since Sunday, when his friend called 911. Bennett collapsed near the summit after he and Mark Thomas were trapped by severe winds as they tried to descend the summit.
Thomas, an engineer from Berkeley, was rescued Monday after he climbed down by himself. Thomas told authorities his friend was unconscious and he believed he could be dead.
Thomas told authorities he left Bennett in a snow cave with water, candy bars and granola. He was able to show authorities Bennett’s location on a map.
Rangers had been prevented this week from conducting a search by winds as strong as 55 miles per hour, freezing temperatures and stormy weather. Authorities had hoped for a break in the storm to conduct a search Wednesday.
Eric White, the lead climbing ranger on Mount Shasta for the U.S. Forest Service, said two helicopter crews were forced to turn back because of low visibility.
“You’ve got very flat light, which is a very high risk for flying, and its hard to tell where the ground is,” White said. “We were unable to get to the elevation we wanted to today.”
A high pressure system was expected to bring warmer conditions and very little precipitation, said Michael Brien, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Medford.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the California National Guard was standing by to make another attempt, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp.
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